It’s Rush hour for Oz kudos

Event fetes industries with mostly peer-voted awards

Geoffrey Rush will host the Australian Film Institute Awards, to be presented Dec. 6-7 at the Exhibition Center in his hometown of Melbourne.

Last year’s host, Russell Crowe, and producer Paul Dainty are credited with turning around the AFIs from non-broadcast oblivion in 2004.

“Apart from ‘Gladiator,’ Russell Crowe and I have never gone up for the same role, so I am thrilled to be invited to step into his sandals and host this year’s AFI Awards,” Rush quipped.

“I love how erratic and unique and re-inventive our films are. One shouldn’t just hold hands with the Australian film industry — it deserves to be embraced passionately in public, and kissed long and hard on the lips.”

The AFI Awards celebrate the film and television industries with mostly peer-voted awards. Oscar foreign-language entry “Ten Canoes” and “Jindabyne” will be among the front-runners this year. Dainty is contracted to produce the event until 2007.

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